Dear PR Santa,
I've been very good this year. I've worked lots of hours, I've gained lots of coverage for clients, I've graduated from Account Executive to Account Manager (whippee!) and I've even kept my desk tidy (ish...)
So, I thought that you might like to know what I'd like for PR Christmas?
Firstly, I would like someone to develop a cheap, but effective tool that allows measurement and evaluation of PR programmes. I would also like this tool to be easy to use and for it to produce data that both client and consultant understand. So, PR Santa, if you could pop that in my stocking on the way over to your mince pie and sherry, that'd be great.
Secondly, I would like people to stop talking about public relations as if everyone involved in the industry is dark, evil and immoral. A few 'spin doctors' have tarnished our profession and it's taking a long time to shake this association. I would like people to realise that the vast majority of PR consultants take ethics and honesty very seriously.
Thirdly, I would like to see more PR people (both in-house and consultants) supporting PRiNZ events. Their regular networking and seminar events are always absolutely brilliant.
Finally, I would like the people running my office to introduce beanbags, an ice-cream machine and a three day weekend. That last one might be a tad unreasonable but who cares- it's Christmas and I have been very very good,
A Festive PR Consultant xx
And with that, I shall sign off for the year. I hope you all have a very merry Christmas, full of mince pies, too much sherry and happiness for both you and your families. I look forward to a lot more PR blogging in the New Year and maybe even meeting a few readers at some PRiNZ events in 2009 (that's if anyone actually reads this blog- I do have my doubts. Ah well, I enjoy it and that's the main thing!!)
P.S. The 'Dear Santa' idea was stolen from my UK friends over at PR and Comms ;)
P.P.S. My Santa photo is the strangest thing I've ever seen....that's Santa related
When I talk to people that were involved in the public relations industry back in London 25 years ago, they smile fondly as they reminisce about long boozy lunches with journalists. A major part of your job as a PR consultant was to wine and dine key figures from your target newspapers and magazines.
This just doesn't seem to happen anymore. Maybe this is because people in the media (and in every other industry for that matter) are shifting jobs on a more regular basis, which means that you don't have time to build up a longstanding relationship with an editor or writer from any particular magazine or newspaper. Maybe it's because the development of the Internet means that there is no need to get that personal with journalists anymore- it's easier and less time consuming (for both parties!) to stick to email and phone, perhaps never even meeting your contact face to face.
Yet, even though it appears that the days of networking regularly with journalists are over, many clients still expect their PR company to have a long list of valuable media contacts. Some will even change PR companies from time to time to ensure that they benefit from all of the different contacts on offer.
No doubt, you will get to know some journalists and editors at the publications you are pitching material to. But.....I think that a lot more importance is placed on that 'Little Black Book' than should be. I think a lot of people don't realise that, even back when schmoozing journalists was the norm, you would not get your story in the paper unless it was a good, newsworthy story.
Contacts don't matter- the only thing that matters is finding the newsworthiness in a client's business and taking your story to a suitable publication. As one blogger put it: 'you couldn't persuade your brother to run a story that didn't fit his publication'
This quote, from an article that was posted over at the website, The Marcus Letter, sums it up perfectly:
'Contacts, not so much -- Clients who think all they have to do is get the right PR person with the right contacts and they will get coverage are a real disappointment. Look at it this way, If I could throw a few dollars at a PR firm and get into the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, I'd hire them myself! I have been in the business for 40 years. If there is a relevant media outlet and my client has a story, they get in. If not they don't. Period. And I never sell contacts.
Conversely business people, including PR people, who think they have contacts delude themselves. Their clients and employers create the contacts. When I worked for a big TV broadcaster I had contacts at TV Guide, when I worked for the Vietnam Government, I had contacts at the White House Press Office. I had the contacts because I had a client with information to deliver, It was certainly not my charm, wit and good looks.'
So, I am officially stranded in New Zealand. My British passport expired last month and my NZ residency visa thingy ran out of juice today. So yeah, you won't be seeing the back of this blogger anytime soon (or at least not until I can scrape together enough pennies to buy my right to leave the country and come back again!) Not that I mind too much. I love this place.
Anyway, back to the topic in hand! I have been having quite a few interesting conversations with fellow PR people recently about how they are handling the current economic dip that this country is going through.
You would think that PR would feel the trickle down effect from struggling Kiwi businesses but this is not what I have been hearing. One woman I spoke to at the last PRiNZ event I attended says that her consultancy is busier than ever. At Intermediary, business is booming and our clients are seeing positive results on their bottom lines (especially our invoice discounting client, for obvious reasons!)
Could this be because New Zealand business owners are recognising that an increased PR, marketing and advertising effort when times are hard can be of huge benefit?
This attitude would make perfect sense. During past recessions, the companies that combined advertising and PR are the ones that survived and prospered. Some companies, such as Disney, HP and Microsoft were even founded during recessionary periods and have gone on to become some of the world's most successful enterprises. Why? Because while other companies were cutting back and sticking their heads in the sand, Bill Gates and Mr Disney were taking full advantage of the situation and were putting agressive advertising, marketing and PR campaigns in place.
In the UK, they have taken things to the next level and the term, 'Recession PR' has been coined. Ogilvy UK is developing a package of offerings aimed at companies hit by the credit crunch. Meanwhile, Brighter Group is creating a credit-crunch PR solution called Brighter Lite for ‘overstretched in-house departments’.
Ogilvy’s package of crisis comms, change management and corporate comms will be offered to markets facing high levels of consolidation such as banking and finance, travel and online retail.
Brighter Lite is offering a menu of basic PR services from which clients can pick for a set fee, instead of hiring new staff or buying subscriptions to research and monitoring services.
The moral to this story, for both PR consultants and NZ businesses, is to avoid dwelling on the doom and gloom of the credit crunch and start getting your creative juices flowing- think about the opportunities that are available and take action. People will still be buying products and companies still need PR- the approach just has to be slightly different.
There is a silver lining to every recessionary cloud.
This is what I have in my head at the moment- stuck on never-ending repeat....
"I've got the whole world in my hands
I've got the whole wide world in my hands
I've got the whole world in my hands
I've got the whooooole world in my hands."
Now, I loved this hymn as a child but my love is currently being wrecked by the advertising industry! Has anyone else noticed the overuse of this particular song in (distinctly 'Apple-like') TV ads at the moment? Last night I was subjected to this tune 3-4 times in the space of one ad break! It felt like I was on that 'It's a Small World' ride at Disneyland (if you have ever been on this ride, you'll know what I'm talking about....)
Somebody please change the record....
On Tuesday, 2nd December, members of the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand (PRiNZ) rang in the Christmas season at the Classic Comedy Club in Auckland. Members were invited to join the audience of TV show, Media 7, a weekly media commentary and review show.
TV host, Russell Brown, along with three panellists discussed the 'cult of celebrity' and why we are all so desperate to know what is going on in the lives of the Britneys and Beckhams of the world. Fellow PR consultant, Fleur Revell-Devlin, from Impact PR, was one of the panellists. She was joined by Trish Carter and author of 'Bitch and Famous', Wendyl Nissen.
This was the first time that I had sat in a TV audience and I was fascinated by everything that was going on behind the scenes. I found the subject matter very interesting although I have to admit, still being fairly new to the country (a resident for two years), I had no idea who some of the so-called 'famous' people were and I still don't quite believe that there are any paparazzi in existence over here!
The comment that sticks out in my mind is that the New Zealand media can't afford to get on the bad side of too many individuals in the public eye. This country doesn't have a great deal of truly famous people and the magazines and newspapers can't afford to alienate them as they need them to sell their covers.
This makes a lot of sense to me and I think it's true in other areas outside of media as well. When you're working in a country the size of New Zealand, you should pay great attention to how you treat and interact with other companies and business people. You may well need them on your side sooner than you think. A very good lesson to bear in mind...
Media 7 can be watched at TVNZ On Demand. Click here to view the 'Celebrity' episode. The Media 7 show appears on TVNZ 7 on Wednesdays at 9.30pm, Thursdays at 12.30pm, Fridays at 9.30pm and Saturdays at 12.30pm.
If you are an up-and-coming graduate, an internship with a public relations company can provide the perfect opportunity to ascertain that PR is actually a career that you want to get into as well as giving you that much needed dose of 'real life' experience that so many employers are looking for.
Competition for intern positions can be fierce but, if you follow a few ground rules, you will find yourself making cups of tea and doing the office mail run for a major PR company before you know it (that's a joke by the way.......before I put any of you off!)
Firstly, pay close attention to the manner in which you apply. Most NZ companies don't advertise internships so you will have to get in touch with them and just....ask. Find out the name and contact details of the person you need to be contacting- this is usually best achieved by phoning the company's reception. Then, either email your CV and covering letter or pop it in the post. Following up by phone can be a good idea as it shows that you are keen.
Not including a CV (or at least offering to provide one on request) is a big no no. Not making the effort to send a professional looking CV will make the consultancy think that you are not that bothered about working for them.
Many companies will then want to meet you in person. Be relaxed and be yourself but do be careful about how you answer questions. Answering the question: 'Why are you interested in PR?' with: 'Cos I like the idea of lots of glamorous parties' is not good. Not good at all. And yes- a possible intern that I recently met did answer the question like this. And no- she wasn't hired!
Also, don't forget to ask the PR company any questions that you might have. Make sure you can work on the days that you have available (important if you are still studying) and find out whether you will be paid or not and that you will be reimbursed for expenses.
All being well, you will soon be in an exciting new position with your chosen PR company. Once there, take the opportunity to absorb as much knowledge as possible from the people around you. Have a stab at every piece of work that they give you but don't be afraid to ask questions if you're unsure about anything. Above all- have fun!
Follow this link for a list of PR companies in New Zealand
Kiwi chart toppers Shihad and Opshop will join leading rally drivers Chris West and Haydon Paddon for a unique event next March, featuring celebrity rally race-offs and a rock concert, with all proceeds going to Camp Quality, a charity for children living with cancer.
Andrew Simms Mitsubishi has signed the award winning bands, West, Paddon and a host of celebrities for the inaugural Rock n Rally charity event to be held at Western Springs on Saturday, 21st March 2009.
And as an added bonus, a high spec street version of the Evo 9 rally car worth over $40,000, courtesy of Andrew Simms Mitsubishi, will be given away on the night.
Celebrities racing with West and Paddon include Lana Coc-Kroft, Vicky Lee Valentino, Johnno and Simon Doull from The Rock FM, Stacey Jones, Peggy Bourne and Temepara George.
The racing will pit Paddon’s Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 against West in the brand new Evo 10, with the winning team receiving $5,000 and the runners up $1,000, for the charity of their choice.
This event is going to be absolutely awesome so, if you can, grab a ticket and persuade all your friends and family to come along as well! As well as enjoying some great cars and music, you will also be helping a fantastic cause.
Tickets will cost from $49 each at Ticketmaster on sale 1st December 2008. Family discounts available.
Rock n Rally is supported by Exide, Castrol and The Rock FM.
I really don't know what to say. Even a PR Junior Account Executive knows that media releases should consist of solid, newsworthy facts, not the overemotional statements that run throughout this entire release.
I know that many Kiwis will not know who Kerry Katona is or will be familiar with breakfast TV programme 'This Morning.'
Just to provide some brief background information- Kerry Katona used to be part of a very successful British girl band called 'Atomic Kitten.' Since she left the group she has gone through divorce, drug addiction, depression and bankruptcy. Recently, she has had something of a body makeover and has been promoting a new TV series. Clearly, the message she wants to get out is 'I have got my life back on track.'
Yesterday morning, she appeared on 'This Morning', an extremely popular show which is watched by a huge portion of the British population. She came across as confused, uncoordinated and slurred her way through the entire interview. She also became incredibly defensive when questioned about her alcohol consumption.
Why, oh why, would any self-respecting publicist allow her to get up in front of a camera in this state? The whole thing was a train wreck and simply awful to watch. To be completely honest, I would be sacking her whole PR team or at least having very stern words with them.
Mindyou, I'm imagining that the TV shows viewing figures haven't suffered too much......
Does anyone else have any PR Disasters to share, either here or abroad?
The rather organised gentleman over at PR and Comms survives each day with only a few essentials, including his iPhone and a copy of the Economist neatly filed away in his 'man bag'. Click here to read the full list.
As I type this, I am looking in trepidation at my plum coloured Karen Millen handbag, which is sat, bulging, on the floor next to my desk.... Looking inside, I discover the following:
- A matching Karen Millen wallet, stuffed with receipts, money, my various cards, driving license and notes from my boyfriend
- An apple, to join the two other wizzened apples and tangerine on my desk that I never get around to eating!
- A hairbrush
- A pair of Bill Bass sunglasses that reaaallly need replacing
- A big bunch of keys, complete with London phone-box keyring
- A mini Crunchie bar
- A small sandwich bag of dry cereal (don't ask)
- A couple of Sharpies that I keep forgetting to take back to the advertising studio in my building
- A collection of random coins and car park receipts
Along with my handbag, I also have my laptop.
I feel rather shamed compared to the neat and tidy blogger in the UK. So, now that I have laid bare the contents of my handbag, I'm interested to hear....what do you have in your PR bag?
Do you have as much useless stuff in your bag as me? Is it a woman thing? Do the guys over in London have less stuff because they generally don't drive to work- they tend to either walk or take the tube and just aren't able to carry as much around?
Or is it just me?
A few weeks ago, a new rival for my boyfriend's attention appeared on the scene. Now, let me stop you before your imagination starts dreaming up visions of a blonde haired, red lipped seductress. The rival isn't a woman, it's not even human. It's the book, 'The Man Who Ate the World' by Jay Rayner.
Yesterday, my boyfriend sent Mr Rayner an email, thanking him for the entertaining read. What impressed me most was that Jay Rayner replied within a matter of hours. The message went like this:
Well that's the kind of feedback every writer wants to hear. Now go tell all your friends to buy the book, I need all the help I can get.
All the best.
My boyfriend was thrilled with getting a response from the author and both of us will definitely continue to buy his books and read his reviews in The Guardian.
This should serve as a valuable lesson for other businesspeople out there. No matter how large or successful you become, do not forget the little people (although, they are not really so 'little', they most probably got you where you are today through their custom and support)
You don't have to use big, overblown gestures. Treat your customers like you would a friend. Respond when they ask questions. Let them know what is going on with your company- whether this is through media releases, a regular newsletter or other forms of communication. Ask for their feedback, through surveys and polls. Even sending them a Christmas or Birthday card once a year will let them know that you are not a soulless, disconnected corporation and that you value their support.
By the way, I don't blame Nick for being so caught up with this particular book. I've already read it and I couldn't put it down. Mr Rayner is a very witty, very funny man and a fantastic writer to boot. The only thing I can complain about is that the book left me slightly hungry and desperate to journey the world sampling all those different foods (ah well, Burger Fuel will have to do for now....)
ANOTHER STUNNING LAUNCH EVENT: ORAL SURGERY ASSOCIATES WELCOMES THE FIRST 3D X-RAY MACHINE TO AUCKLAND
On Friday, 10th October, Intermediary organised another glamorous launch event. I really enjoy putting these occasions together- I think that if I wasn't in PR, I would be quite tempted by pure event management! This time it was to celebrate the opening of oral surgery, Oral Surgery Associates, at the brand new Ascot Central building, Greenlane.
The unveiling of the revolutionary 3D imaging device and the launch of the brand new specialist oral and maxillofacial surgery offices drew more than 130 dentists, doctors and industry professionals from across the region.
Oral surgery Associates has received a great amount of support from the dental community. Prominent dental companies including Sirona, Nobel Biocare and Henry Schein Shalfoon all made contributions to the grand opening.
Click here to see the original launch media release
I usually shy away from using this blog to promote clients but I know that there must be plenty of PR ladies out there will be interested in this particular event!
On Thursday, 30th October, Friday, 31st October and Saturday, 1st November, Life Pharmacy stores will be offering personal beauty treatments to the public. This is a great opportunity to have a team of experts create a new make-up look, skin care programme or beauty room treatment just for you.
All that you need to do to secure an appointment is to pop down to your nearest Life Pharmacy and pledge a minimum $20 donation which will be passed on to national women’s cancer charity, Look Good Feel Better. All donations will go towards the special hair and make-up workshops that this very special charity holds across New Zealand. These free workshops, which are attended by up to 3,000 women each year, provide a vital boost to self-esteem at a time when it is needed most.
All of New Zealand’s favourite beauty houses are participating in the event including Bobbi Brown, Clarins, Chanel Beauté, Clinique, Dior, Estee Lauder, Elizabeth Arden, Lancôme, La Mer, Mac, La Prairie, Origins, Revlon, Shiseido, Smashbox and Yves Saint Laurent Beauté
Bookings can be made at any of the nationwide Life Pharmacy stores.
Everyone who makes a booking will also go into a draw to win one of two baskets filled with cosmetic products, valued at $1000.
So, head on down to your nearest beauty counter. Not only will you pick up some great beauty tips but you will also be supporting women with cancer throughout the country....
INTERMEDIARY COMMUNICATIONS TEAMS UP WITH INTERNATIONAL INVOICE DISCOUNTING COMPANY, INTERFACE FINANCIAL GROUP
Soooo....it looks like the time has finally come. Today, at 12.30pm, Helen Clarke called an election. Here is a link to the announcement which just popped up on NZX. You can also go here to see a video of Helen making the announcement. Hopefuly, a big chunk of of the population will be dashing down to the polls on Saturday, 8th November to decide the future of New Zealand.
These are very interesting times. I am sure that many of us will be looking on and wondering how the results of this election will effect both our clients and ourselves.
I have already decided who I am going to vote for. I hope that my decision will go a small way towards making this country a better place.
Who else has already reached a decision? Or will you be waiting until the last minute before you make your mind up?
The announcement has, obviously, spread through international media like wildfire. Here are a few links that you can visit to read more about the upcoming election:
Look up the word 'jargon' in the Oxford English Dictionary and this is what you will find:
'jargon- noun - words or expressions used by a particular group that are difficult for others to understand. Origninates from the French term for twittering or chattering.'
Bearing this in mind, why oh why, do so many people insist on dismantling the English language with business babble and jargon?
Many people presume that those in the advertising industry are the main culprits. However, shamefuly, PR consultants are guilty too. I have endured meetings that have been almost entirely made up of strange metaphors, buzz words and acronyms. Sometimes you feel like you need some kind of jargon interpreter or dictionary, just to make sense of what is going on.
Here is a list of my least favourite words and phrases:
- 'Thinking outside of the box'- You mean we need to be creative? So, why can't you just say that?
- 'Can we touch base?'- This one makes me cringe. What does it even mean? Is it an invitation to play a few games of baseball (if it is, my apologies, I would love to. Give me a time and a place and I'll be there)?
-'We need to get all our ducks in a row' - I'm sorry, I know this is widely used in Kiwi businesses but I hate it. What does it mean? What ducks? What do ducks have to do with meeting PR or advertising objectives? Surely we can get our point across without bringing our webbed footed, feathery friends into it?
- 'We need to walk the walk'- Ummmm...
- 'We need to step up to the plate'- Can anyone tell me where this plate is and why it is so important?
- Acronyms- 'FYI, I will need those SME stats for the 10.30am WIP, ASAP.'
All of these words, metaphors and phrases are completely pointless and only result in confusion, amongst both clients and our colleagues. As PR consultants, it is our job to ease the lines of communication, not clog them with acronyms and made-up words. I think that every time a PR or advertising person utters one of these awful phrases, they should be fined $2.50, which would be donated to a deserving cause. We would be doing two great things- raising money for charity and stamping out jargon!!
What is your least favourite buzzword or phrase?
One of my friends used to work for the PR consultancy equivalent of a 'sausage factory.' She was always at the office until late into the night and a lot of weekends were also gobbled up by her job. She told pretty worrying tales about Account Managers breaking down in tears while driving to work and turnover was so high that her team was constantly changing. She found it all very unsettling and highly stressful. She lasted less than six months.
I just don't think that is right. If your employees are unhappy and are not allowed to unwind in the evenings or at weekends, then it will come out in the work that they do. It's inevitable. I also think that it's highly unethical to treat people like this, whether they are being paid big bucks to manage a huge PR campaign or they are on a much more modest wage, down at the local corner shop.
My life is very balanced. I work from 8.30am-5pm, unless I have a late meeting or am organising an event etc. If I can't do my work between those hours then I am either not organising my time properly or my employer is giving me more than I can manage on my own. I relax by indulging in my hobbies (horse-riding, although I am also taking up snowboarding) and spending time with my boyfriend and my family.
I do love my job but if I didn't have other interests and an opportunity to spend time doing them, I would become demotivated, lethargic and would not be able to work to my full potential.
If you are sat reading this in the office at 8pm and you are still nowhere near the bottom of your pile of work, you may fit the typical 'sausage worker' profile! Remember- you do have a choice here. There are plenty of great PR consultancies and employers out there who recognise that content employees benefit everybody. Make sure you're with one of them.
I will happily admit that I am part of the up-and-coming generation that is passionate about buying organic, free range products. I am quite content to indulge in a nice slice of roast chicken and stuffing as long as I know that the bird was treated with respect and kindness while it was alive.
I am always keen to learn more about how I can enjoy the things I love without harming the environment and the animals in it, which is why I tuned in to Jamie Oliver's 'Fowl Dinners' last night.
Despite criticism from the Herald's Michelle Hewitson, I still believe that the show was a great success. I think it achieved the goal of shocking viewers and making them think a little about what they are eating.
Also, kudos to the Corporate PR Manager from Hellman's Mayonnaise for announcing, on the show, that the company will no longer be using eggs that aren't free range. It's good to know that such a popular, well known brand has taken a stand and chosen to do the right thing.
I don't care that this show was used as a blatent PR tool for Waitrose, Sainsburys and even Mr Jamie Oliver. If what he is doing goes some way towards stopping things like this happening (and it isn't just a British or American issue- follow this link for a Kiwi example) then it can't be a bad thing.
Don't forget to include RSVP details and a cut-off date
Over the past few weeks, I have had the pleasure of organising a lavish launch event for a brand new company called, Lumino Pearl Dental Spa. The luxury spa, which is based in Remuera, is the very first of its kind in New Zealand. Allen Baker, who all those 'Ten Years Younger' addicts will know as the man who transforms smiles, is heading up the venture and will be offering a complex list of appearance dentistry treatments.
The 'Great Gatsby' themed launch party, which took place last night at the spa, was a great success. Dawsons did a fantastic job with the decorating and catering, the Mike Nesbit Jazz Trio provided the tunes and top photographer, George Passmore, was on hand to capture all the fun and excitement on film.
A number of beautiful prizes were donated from local businesses, including a microdermabrasion treatment from Forme Beauty Spa, a beauty pack from Sarah Priddy's Nails and last (but certainly not least!) a gorgeous pearl necklace from Angela Daniels. Allen Baker also donated two hygiene appointments and two Britesmile whitening treatments.
I was thrilled that a lot of people really made the most of the occasion, taking the opportunity to dress up in all their 1920s finery (including myself!) I will post some more photos later so that you can admire all the feathers, sparkles and lace for yourselves.
I've just stumbled across this great corporate website. At first I thought it was real (and run by a group of arrogant you-know-whats...) Then I carried on reading and quickly realised that all was not as it seemed.
This fake site is full of golden quotes but here are a few of my favourites:
'Our main consulting strategy is to convince clients that we do stuff they can't do themselves, and that we deserve lots of money for it. The best way to do this is to always look good, and always sound like we know something you don't. Because we do.
Are you confused yet? Of course you are. And that's just how we like it. Our marketing professionals are constantly coming up with new ways to make you feel inferior and stupid. Because you are. And we're not. We're new-age, eMoving, marketing consultants.'
'We have lots of shiny espresso machines, and all of our new-age eMovers (that's our cool way to say "consultants," remember?) drive to work in VW Beetles. Appearance is everything to us, because we'll get more of your money by looking cool than we will by doing quality work.
If you call our office, the phone will be answered by a very disinterested intern, giving you the impression that we're too important to talk to you. Because we are.'
If you're at the end of your working day, you're running out of enthusiasm and you've suddenly come down from that sugar and caffeine high you had been surfing since lunchtime, have a look at the Huh? website. It's a great laugh. And we all know of a couple of companies out there that are sailing dangerously close to being true-to-form Huh? corporations!Kudos to the person that came up with this site. I salute you.
Another morning- another giant mug of thick, black coffee.... I don't even like coffee. I drink it because it gives me a buzz and it is more socially acceptable to drink Nescafe in the morning than a bottle of fluorescent blue Powerade.
Coffee has come into my life because of a significant increase in my work load. Don't get me wrong- I'm very excited about having a variety of different things to be getting on with. I'm a total fidget- the kind of person who is constantly tapping their feet and looking around for something else to do. I get bored and demotivated when I don't have anything to do. No- my problem is with shutting my brain off when I get home in the evenings.
Last night, as I was settling down, ready to go to sleep, this is what happened:
Me: Ahhh, lovely, lovely sleep
Brain: Excuse me. Before you nod off, I was wondering...are you sure that you have invited all the people you need to for this launch event you're organising?
Me: Shut up, I'm trying to sleep. But now you mention it...I can't remember if I added that key media contact to the guest list...Maybe I should get up and check.
Brain: And I hope you realise that you have to phone thingy and so-and-so tomorrow, and look through those notes, and type up that article and write up that other thing. Oh, and update your blog.
Me: I'm perfectly aware of all this- why are we going over this at 12.30am??
Brain: Also, seeing as you're still awake, let me tell you about this great idea I have for that new client of yours.
And so it went on.
How does everyone else relax when they get home in the evenings? Are you ever able to take your mind entirely off work or is it always lurking at the back of your mind, wherever you are and whatever you're doing? Does it get easier the longer you are in the job role? Maybe I should take up yoga...
Knol is a brand new offering from Google. It has been designed to go up against Wikipedia, which has dominated the online free-content encyclopaedia space since it was created back in 2001.
Unlike Wikipedia, you can write about anything on Knol- including individual businesses. I'm keen to see whether this will result in a huge, spaghetti like mess of useless information but, at the moment, the Knol site looks great, is easy to use and contains some very interesting entries.
As well as providing information on clients, Knol could also be used to educate more people on the benefits of public relations. There is already a PR related 'knol' listed on the site but if you don't agree with it or think that this writer has missed some key points, simply sign up and create your very own PR knol!
Ning is a social networking site that was set up with the aim of competing with the big boys: Facebook and MySpace. Apparently, this site was launched in October, 2005. This means that either I am not as up-to-speed with the online landscape as I think I am or the founders have not put an awful lot of effort into marketing it!
I love Friday mornings. Friday mornings are when I settle down at my desk with a huge cup of milky coffee and get stuck into all of my online work. I check up on this blog, I browse the net for any online tools that may have been developed since I last checked (!) and I carry out any online PR plans that have been laid out for my clients.
I'm particularly enjoying this Friday as the sun is shining and the rain has almost stopped. Does anyone know if we had even one day free of rain this July? Anyway, I digress..
Today, I decided to go on a hunt for New Zealand based public relations blogs. I already knew of a few but wanted to make sure that I hadn't missed any. My findings are below:
Is this it? If anyone else in New Zealand is blogging about PR, please let me know and I will add you to the list.It would be a shame if these are the only PR related blogs in New Zealand. I would love to have access to a tool, through which public relations practitioners could swap thoughts and ideas on how to improve the industry. A website containing PR news and views would also be fantastic- perhaps something similar to the ad industry's Campaign Brief NZ?
BOOBS, BOTTOMS AND OTHER SUCH THINGS: HOW A PINCH OF CONTROVERSY CAN SOMETIMES DO WONDERS FOR A BRAND
All in all, the above examples go to show that sometimes a bit of debate over a product, service or event can actually be a great public relations tool. It can raise awareness of a brand and drive more people to carry out the action that you would like them to. It should definitely remind us all to think outside of the box a little and not to shy away from a little bit of controversy, if we come across the kind of client that might benefit from it...
This is why I am slightly disappointed that PRiNZ, the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand, has allowed their blog to die...
The first problem with the PRiNZ blog is that it is impossible to find. The only way you will come across it is if you accidentally stumble upon it whilst searching for something entirely different! There is not even a link to the blog from the PRiNZ website.
Secondly, the blog has not been updated since December, 2007. Not good.
I also find it interesting that while this blog has been neglected, a new PR magazine has been printed. This is despite the fact that research shows that online readership is soaring and less people are bothering with traditional print media.
I think that, even though some great business related blogs have come out of New Zealand, this country is still lagging behind the rest of the world.
PR people have the opportunity to demonstrate just what a difference blogging can make to New Zealand companies. Bearing this in mind, I think that PRiNZ should ressurect their PR blog, make an effort to provide some thought-provoking comments, opinions and information and lead the way forward!
Our key audiences are finding increasingly diverse and advanced ways to communicate and to unearth information. If the PR industry doesn't adapt then it may as well roll over and die...
I think that is a ridiculous statement myself. A well written media release provides journalists with every bit of information that they need to put together an accurae, informative and compelling article. Of course, we also 'talk to journalists and provide them with leads and stories' but, even after selling a story into a publication, most of us would email them a copy of the media release so that they have access to all the correct facts and figures.
How many of us have felt 'copy rage' when our lovingly prepared piece of work has been ripped to shreds by someone senior to us? I am becoming increasingly immune to constructive criticism and alterations to my articles and media releases but this piece still made me chuckle.
This is a great little campaign that was run by Royal Mail in the UK. It should serve as a reminder to us all that a choice doesn't have to be made between online and offline tactics. When you combine these two approaches, a very powerful campaign can be created.
Anyway, I shall leave it to Mr Complete to explain exactly how this can be achieved....
SAATCHI & SAATCHI MD, DEAN DAYLOR, TALKS SMEs AND ONLINE ADVERTISING AT BUSINESS MENTORS NEW ZEALAND EVENT
Last night, I was fortunate enough to hear another senior member of the Saatchi & Saatchi team speak. This time it was Dean Taylor, who took over the role of Managing Director at the S&S Auckland office earlier this year.
Dean was hosting the Business Mentors New Zealand 'Patron's Event'. S&S is a major sponsor of this fantastic, not-for-profit organisation, helping the business with every aspect of their advertising needs.
Dean gave a great presentation on small to medium enterprises (SMEs). He pointed out that, even though these individual companies are small, they make up the largest area of business in New Zealand and deserve our attention. Dean went on to say that, if we really want to connect with these businesses, we need to really get into their heads and understand their different worries and hopes.
He summed his speech up with a list of points that should be bourne in mind when dealing with SMEs. My personal favourite was point number 10 which stated that: 'Word of mouth is the most powerful tool.' It seems that even the ad guys can't deny the power of PR....!
Dean also touched on the merits of online advertising, this being an area that S&S is really focusing on at the moment (and no wonder- all the figures show that people are reading less and surfing the net more).
Like Kevin Roberts, Dean also keeps a blog. Check it out here.
I was lucky enough to hear Kevin Roberts, global CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi speak at the SkyCity Convention Centre last night. As leader of one of the world's largest and best known advertising agencies, I was expecting Kevin to come across as somewhat aloof and intimidating.
When he started talking, I was pleasantly surpised to discover that this highly sought after and incredibly successful man is actually very down to earth. He seems like the kind of genuine guy you could enjoy a cold pint with- this impression only cemented further by his disarming Lancashire/American accent.
Even though I found standing up for an hour quite taxing (wearing high heels was a mistake!) I thoroughly enjoyed hearing what Kevin had to say. It just made sense.
When discussing how companies should deal with the current economic slip, Kevin had a number of suggestions. The one point that sticks in my mind is that businesses should not shy away from being creative and innovative. When every other enterprise is keeping a low profile and slashing their budgets, the astute business owner will be ensuring that they are running an aggressive, inventive marketing campaign and are getting their brand in front of the people that matter,
If you want to get more of an insight into how Kevin thinks, I thoroughly suggest checking out his blog.
The more astute businesspeople have always known that when recession hits, the key to success is to keep on investing. The companies that don't pull through are the ones that curl up into a tiny ball and pretend that it isn't happening or the ones that sack their marketing team and slash the advertising budget.
This BusinessDay article by David Hargreaves explains exactly why New Zealand businesses should keep on investing. According to BCG managing director, David Tapper, history has shown that 'companies who reinvest in the face of a downturn tend to outperform those who return cash to shareholders or use it to repay debt'
Investing against the tide, whether that is organically- through sales and marketing, research and development, production, logistics and people-or inorganically, through mergers and acquisitions can lead to a company being in a better position than its immobile competitors.
Preparation is crucial when dealing with recession. According to BCG, companies that plan effectively for a downturn often find themselves in a position to increase market share and attract the best talent at a time when competitors are reducing head-count and delaying investments.
An exciting opportunity has just opened up at the Auckland-based Intermediary Communications for a mid-senior level Account Manager.
The successful applicant will be reporting directly to the Managing Director, Peter Boyes. Peter is a great mentor, with 26 years extensive experience in communications counsel, including being responsible for co-ordinating pan-European and trans-Atlantic communications programmes. He is also a PRiNZ chairman.
Intermediary is a fast-growing, boutique consultancy with a broad range of clients. If you are enthusiastic, pro-active and creative, then this may be the role for you.
If you are interested in finding out more, send me an email or your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call on 021 667 873. You can read more about Intermediary at http://www.intermediary.co.nz/.
However, contrary to popular belief, journalists do not hate PR people. They do not spend their days plotting and musing on various ways to make our lives as uncomfortable and as miserable as possible. In fact, the majority of them are actually quite nice.
Even though email may feel like the easy option, it is not always the most effective. Emails are easy to overlook, forget about or delete. If you discuss an article via the telephone, you will be able to answer any queries that the journalist has and will be able to describe your story with a passion that just can't be conveyed through electronic means
2) Know who you need to speak to:
Research the names and positions of people working at specific magazines and newspapers and target your story at the individuals working in the relevant sections. There is no point wasting the Editor-in-Chief's time if you have a story that would be better off being pitched at the Property Editor. If you are unsure about who you need to speak to, an editorial assistant will be able to point you in the right direction.
Never pick up the phone unless you have prepared yourself sufficiently and know what you are going to talk about. Make sure that you know the ins and outs of the business or product that you wish to discuss. Otherwise, you will come across as unprofessional and journalists will feel that you are wasting their time.
4) Keep it short and sweet:
Journalists are very busy people- they do not want you waffling on for half an hour. Make sure that you can describe your idea in as succinct a manner as possible. You should be able to get your key points across in the space of a few minutes.
If you are really nervous about pitching your story, write out a rough script. Having a series of bullet points in front of you will make you feel more confident and will provide you with something to refer to should you get nervous and forget what you were going to say next.
Don't try to be someone you're not- just be yourself. A few tricks to stop you feeling tense and nervous include standing up and smiling while you're on the phone.
Above all, remember that journalists need stories- their livelihood depends on it. If you can provide them with a unique, interesting story idea, they will thank you for it.
The tightening New Zealand economy means that these are uncertain times for all types of business. The ‘R’ word is a regular feature in the media and cash flow worries are keeping Kiwi business owners awake at night. Many of them are reacting by putting a big thick red line through their public relations, marketing and advertising budgets.
However, cutting back on marketing spend during periods of economic hardship is a mistake.
Rather than slim-lining communications efforts, now is the time to start beefing them up. Business owners should be concentrating on maintaining the trust of their investors and customers by regularly touching base with them and letting them know how the company is dealing with the situation.
Many companies have fallen over during past recessions as a result of shying away from marketing and, consequently, dropping off the radar of the media, their shareholders, their customers and their potential customers.
At the other end of the scale, a number of clever businesses that have invested heavily in marketing during poorer economic circumstances have come out stronger than ever and way ahead of their rivals. For example, during the recession of 1990-1992, Procter & Gamble was the only marketer among the five biggest U.S. companies to increase spending in 1991. P&G managed to increase sales and earnings during this period (the late 1980s to early 1990s) and company sales surpassed the $30 billion mark in 1993.
Many business owners aren’t aware that PR is one of the most cost-efficient tools available, which can be a blessing when finances are tight. This value for money contrasts sharply with advertising which can become incredibly expensive, very quickly.
Online public relations is a particularly effective way of squeezing the maximum value out of your PR dollar and is something that business owners can do a lot of themselves. Writing a company blog, participating in business forums and sending out a regular e-newsletter are all simple but effective ways of reminding relevant parties that you are still alive and kicking.
Recessions are a natural part of the economic cycle. The markets, the consumers and the products will still be around once the economy has corrected itself. Business owners should try not to react by cutting out the very tools that could keep their heads above water. If companies are astute and pay attention to how they are communicating, at a time when their competitors are slashing their marketing budgets, they may even come out of the difficult economic period with an even larger portion of the market than when the recession began.
I am all for equal rights. I do not think that men should be paid more than a woman who has the same amount of experience. I loved reading Katharine Graham's authobiography and I feel extremely proud when I think of the advances that women have made over the years.
However, I have to say that this post, which argues that female PR practitioners are not taken seriously, grated on my nerves ever so slightly.
The author of the post, Nicola Miller, infers that films such as 'Sex and the City' and 'Bridget Jones', do not acurately reflect the reality of the public relations industry and that they have a negative impact on how female consultants are perceived.
I completely disagree with this view. I do not think that people look at a show like 'Ab Fab' and presume that the PR profession is exactly like it is on the show. I think that we need to give people a little more credit than that. I certainly never watch an over-the-top crime related TV series such as 'CSI' and think that it is an accurate depiction of the average day in a crime scene investigator's life. I don't tune into a show like 'Shortland Street' and think that hospital nurses are exposed to serial killers, adultery and kidnappings on a daily basis. The majority of people are intelligent enough to see programs like this for what they are: fun sources of escapism that are gloriously unrealistic, daft and indulgent!
Many people have a skewed understanding of public relations. However, I would argue that the actions of individuals such as Alistair Campbell have had more of an impact on this than a few silly references in 'Absolutely Fabulous.'
Now, let us take a final look at how female PR practitioners are faring. According to the most recent PRiNZ salary survey, women are dominating the PR industry with 73% of current practitioners being female. This trend is only set to increase; a mere 13.5% of respondents under 30 years of age were male. Only in the 50 plus age category are males and females equally represented.
In my opinion, despite the obvious attempt by SATC to muddy our professional reputation (sarcasm intended), things are not looking too bad for us girls. What do you think?
If you were relaxing on Sunday evening in front of the television, you might have been sitting down to watch Prime’s new show, ‘Mad Men’, which is all about the 1960s advertising industry.
In the UK, men’s style bible Arena Magazine covered the launch of the program with an article on advertising – talking to the relevant movers and shakers in the UK’s ad industry.
Unsurprisingly, there was no interview with a high-flyer at Saatchi, no appraisal of TVCs; in fact there wasn’t a dickey bird on traditional methods or agencies. Why is this is not a surprise? Because they were talking to the men who had been creating effective marketing campaigns, promotions that had been noticed for all the right reasons, and almost all of it was online and involved direct marketing.
As the economic downturn puts pressure on company budgets and managers become more keen to know whether they are receiving a decent return on their marketing investment, it is imperative that advertising agencies are able to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns.
With greater ad avoidance there it is ever more important that companies send out relevant information to their consumers. Putting out a TVC has its advantages, but there are a hell of a lot of negative aspects as well – is it reaching the right people? Is it effective? How many people skipped past it or didn’t watch it at all? The simple answer is that you can’t be sure for definite because it can’t be measured. This could equate to an awful lot of dollars slipping down the drain.
And herein lays the problem with most traditional methods. It’s not that they can’t be good, but in the current climate, companies need to get the most from their marketing investment. They need effective, measured and accountable communications with their consumers.
PR and direct marketing (and when I say direct marketing I don’t mean mail drops and leaflets in your post box) can cover off these issues. It all begins with knowing your customers and how they’re likely to react. Good DM agencies will have analysts who measure all the data that they can get from client databases to allow them to start tracking trends and developing a thorough understanding of consumer behaviour. This understanding can then be turned into a strategy that will cut through to provide the most effective method of talking to key markets. The end result is that only the most relevant audiences are sent a piece of communication. From this you’ll know, for instance, how many people have received your piece of communication and how many people responded through the necessary channels. In fact, you’ll know exactly who responded and therefore gain even more valuable data to further inform your marketing decisions.
DM opens up a whole new world of communications, with the ability to do personalized pieces and trigger based programmes (so that people receive information at the most convenient time to them). Companies can also interact live with the brand or measure how long someone spent on a website and at which point they clicked off.
While technology opens up plenty of opportunity for ad avoidance it also opens up a greater opportunity for greater communications that will be relevant to that person and therefore more effective. The way society communicates is changing and so the way companies advertise will have to as well. The Mad Men of the 60’s don’t stand a chance.
If you would like to know more about direct marketing, you can contact Nick Bell, new Account Manager at leading Auckland-based DM agency, Twenty, at email@example.com.
I am very aware of the fact that, as PR people, it is vital that we understand and keep track of what is going on in the rest of the communications industry (mainstream advertising, direct marketing, journalism etc). After all, we often have to work alongside people from these other professions, to achieve what a client is after. For this reason, I would be more than happy to post any information or advice that people in these areas feel may be useful to us public relations consultants. Just drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to share something with us. Hopefuly this will lead to our individual professions understanding each other a little better, resulting in much better outcomes for our clients.
These are tough times for all types of business, excluding the receivers....Those in retail are struggling to move enough stock and the word 'finance company' is becoming an increasingly dirty word. Getting positive public relations for businesses is tricky as audiences are low on trust and the media are baying for blood, seemingly only interested in stories about soaring petrol prices and failing enterprises.
This is why I am so impressed with Kiwibank's ability to rise above the bad luck stories and to maintain their positive reputation.
The guys at Kiwibank obviously have a very good grasp of online communications. The 'Join the Movement' campaign has really got people talking and there are now a multitude of blogs and forums discussing the ins and outs of Kiwibank: what the positives and negatives are, what new products have been released, what Kiwibank has planned for the future etc.
Kiwibank is also not afraid of standing up and tackling industry issues, which gives the impression that they actually care about their shareholders and where the industry is heading.
The PR campaign ties in well with a series of unique and attention-grabbing TV advertisements. The ads are so popular that as soon as a new one has been released, it is added to Youtube by its fans just a few moments later.
Although they appear to have a great public relations strategy and a clever and creative approach to their advertisements, there is another reason that Kiwibank is so popular. They have identified their USP, their point of differentiation and they are working it. On top of this, they know what their customers want. While all the other banks are increasing their mortgage rates, without any clear rationale, Kiwibank is cutting theirs. While New Zealanders are bemoaning the number of companies going offshore, Kiwibank is publicising the fact that they are 100% New Zealand owned and based.
There is only one aspect of Kiwibank that does not work in its favour- the location of its branches. Having to queue up in a post office is just not as convenient as popping into your local bank. If they managed to streamline this aspect of their business, then Kiwibank would truly have it made.
If anyone else has an example of a company which is running an excellent public relations campaign, feel free to email the details to me at email@example.com and I will include them in the 'New Zealand PR Hall of Fame'.
Just a few bits of information for anybody reading 'Musings from an Intermediary...'
If you have a blog that you would like to see listed on the blogroll, please send the link to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will post it. The same goes for websites.
Also, if you have any public relations news or views that you would like everybody to hear about, send me the info and I will add it to the blog, under your name.
I am open to any ideas for improving the blog so feel free to send me those too!
Enjoy your Fridays everybody!
In these times of economic uncertainty, more and more business owners are, understandably, keen to see proof of whether they are getting a return on their investment into marketing, advertising and public relations. If businesses do not see a clear ROI, then it is quite likely that they will slash their budgets and reserve their cash for tactics that they can see working.
Some direct marketing agencies, such as the Auckland-based Twenty Limited, analyse results and report back to the client as a matter of course. The advertising industry has also long recognised the importance of evaluating return on investment.
However, more often than not, public relations consultancies do not push for evaluation of results, particulary in New Zealand. It is something that is talked about a lot at PRiNZ events but not something that many individuals appear to be acting upon. Maybe this is because PR professionals see themselves more as 'creative brains' than people occupied with statistics and numbers...? Maybe PR consultants are still caught up in that outdated assumption that media coverage proves that public relations is working.
Obviously, PR consultants do need to be able to show how much media exposure was achieved during a campaign. However, they also need to demonstrate the degree to which this exposure influenced perceptions and attitudes and what action, if any, the target audience took.
It is also vital that clients are educated on what results to expect from public relations. PR consultants need to ensure that their clients understand that the success of a PR campaign is not always directly linked to how many column inches they achieve. Of course, if consultants can convince their clients of the benefits of linking PR objectives to business objectives, then companies will also see results that go far beyond the odd article in newspapers and magazines.
At the recent PRiNZ conference, most members sitting on the Young Practitioners Panel were of the opinion that the future of PR lies in technology. I do not disagree with this. However, I also think that, as the months go by, especially if the current economic downturn stays with us for longer than expected, PR consultants will have to be more accountable and will have to present real, tangible results that prove that PR is succeeding at the job that it set out to do.
If PR consultants want a seat at the executive table, the first step is to start talking in a language that CEOs understand. Ultimately, this means providing data and information that shows that PR is impacting a company's bottom line.
Have a read of this blog named 'Proving the Value of Public Relations' and written by Don Bartholomew, senior vice president at MWW Group, in the United States, if you want to learn more about where the PR industry is heading, in terms of accountability and demonstrating ROI.